The Coalition of CSOs on Human Rights and Good Governance has released a preliminary report on the recent attacks by Boko Haram on military posts in Borno State.
The coalition, however, faulted the use of manipulated videos and still images to depict the attack on the troops by the insurgents.
According to a report released by the human rights groups on Wednesday, some political players used the attack as part of their campaign for the 2019 general elections, which poses the risk of validating the crimes Boko Haram sect.
Maxwell Gowon, Executive Director of the coalition, said the materials released online were mostly captured from Kannywood movie scene.
Gowon, therefore, called on the Nigerian government to carry out a comprehensive review of the activities of correspondents of foreign media platforms to ascertain the extent to which they are working with terrorists and some local actors to discredit the Nigerian military and its efforts.
The report reads in full:
The Nigerian Army confirmed that Boko Haram insurgents on November 18, 2018 attacked its 157 Battalion in Metele village in Guzamala Local Government Area of Borno State. The casualty figure from the attack remains in contention as Boko Haram propaganda has been unwittingly shared and promoted by websites and members of the public, causing distortion in the reckoning of the number of the dead and wounded.
There were also attacks in Gajiram and Mainok, both in Borno state.
Media reports of the attacks, with particular emphasis on the casualty figure, were monitored for comparative value. The video released by the Boko Haram and the various versions published, as well as screen grabs and still photos published and shared on social media were analysed.
The comment sections of some of the sites that reported the attacks or published the aforementioned multimedia content were reviewed (as posted at the time of compiling this report).
The main video (or collection, since some site published split versions) was shot to project Boko Haram as strong while at the same time aimed at causing distress and terror to Nigerians. However, vegetation in the clip remain green, which is not consistent with the start of the harmattan/dry season when the attack happened – the grass should have matured to the point beginning to dry up on account of almost bordering the desert.
Other unrelated footages of terror attacks were published by some platforms that possibly do not have the necessary skills for video authentication and verification. Unrelated gory pictures were similarly misappropriated in reporting the incidents.
In a few instances, stills from a Kannywood movie of an actor-soldier weeping over a fallen colleague-actor were serially shared as Nigerian soldiers mourning after the attack.
Some political players used the attack as political prop as part of their campaign for the 2019 General Elections, which poses the risk of validating the crimes Boko Haram is committing while encouraging them to commit more atrocities since they are being incentivised to see themselves as having a participatory audience.
International news networks and organizations have cashed in on the attack reiterate their long held stereotype to cast aspersion on the war against terrorism while meetings of the Service Chiefs to brief the Commander-in-Chief have been interpreted as censure of these high ranking military officials. This raised the concern of what relationship exists between these foreign media and the terrorists.
The foreign media have shifted from referring to the terrorists as Boko Haram to using the term “Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA)” a clear departure from their hesitation to acknowledge the IS/ISIS name in the Middle East.
Similar to 6 above, locals reported that those that carried out the attacks were foreigners and not Nigerians, which reinforces earlier expressed views of indigenous conflict monitoring and peacebuilding groups that had earlier argued that the initial Boko Haram has been degraded and eventually defeated by the Nigerian Army.
Well-meaning Nigerians should condemn the use of fake videos and photos that play on the psyche of Nigerians. The condemnation should extend to warning those that do this to desist from further terrorising Nigerians by helping Boko Haram to promote its act of terror.
The federal government should carry out a comprehensive review of the activities of correspondents of foreign media platforms to ascertain the extent to which they are working with terrorists and some local actors to discredit the Nigerian military and its efforts. The review should benchmark the conduct of these correspondents with the prevailing legislation and practice in their countries of origin and those of the countries where their organizations have their international headquarters.
The extant anti-terrorism legislation in the country should be activated to see the possibility of making the promoters of fake news to account for their actions.
In the light of the accounts by the local population and the transition of foreign media into adopting ISWA as opposed to Boko Haram, Nigerian authorities should review its treatment of the terrorists as Boko Haram members (that the record have shown to have been defeated) and see what international intervention can be brought in since the Islamic State is not a creation of Nigerian factors.
The Nigerian military should organize a refresher clinic on reporting terrorism for bloggers with a view to highlighting the imperatives of video and photo authentication.
The federal government should engage the social media and internet giants (Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and others) on the need to accord Nigeria the same level of respect they show countries in Europe and North America by not condoning terrorist propaganda on their DP.
#Nigeria Decides: Corps members lament shoddy treatment
Members of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) have called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to put adequate logistics in place, ahead of Saturday’s elections.
The Corps members lamented lack of security, inadequate transportation and the poor communication channel between them and the INEC officials.
They noted that they slept in the open fields, on bare floor and benches with election materials without security presence before the commission announced the elections’ rescheduling.
It was gathered that in some of the schools, the NYSC members were posted to, the schools’ gatemen were not aware they were coming. It was also learned that the corps members were alone in most of the schools overnight without policemen to provide security.
Many of the Corps members also lamented that they were at least expecting dinner to be served, mattresses and mosquito nets from INEC because they were told that they would be taken care of, but they got nothing.
A Corps member, Princess Ukaps, told The Nation that she and some of her colleagues were at the INEC office around 4 pm last Friday. She said they were there to check the names of their polling units and supervisors.
“After waiting endlessly, we moved to the primary school we were posted to and we got there few minutes to 9 pm. We were there hoping that INEC officials would come and address us. We also hoped they would give us food, mattresses and maybe mosquito nets because we were told that we would be taken care of.
“To our surprise, we waited endlessly and later went to look for food and drinks. I had to take my bath at the back of one of the classrooms in the school that night because I can never sleep without taking my bath. It was one woman in the school that gave me a bucket and water. I slept on a bench in one of the classrooms, but mosquitoes bite me seriously. Some slept on the floor in the classrooms. I learnt that at some other schools, the gatemen did not open the gates for the corps members and many had to sleep inside buses and on the floor on the roadsides. The experience was pathetic.”
Another Corps member, who simply identified himself as Chinedu, who was attached to a local government on the Lagos Mainland, said the way many of them were treated last Friday was inhuman and uncalled for.
“INEC made us feel less of a human being. We were left to sleep in an open space and no one catered for us; no one communicated with us. When I and some of my friends got to the primary school we were posted to, we were expecting some of the INEC officials to come to the school for our final training. They told us at the previous training they had with us that they were would come to our polling units to give us final training on the election materials, card readers and all, but no one showed up. We all slept in an open space.
US backs postponement of elections
The United States Embassy in Nigeria has thrown its weight behind international election observers on the postponement of last Saturday’s presidential and parliamentary elections in the country.
In a statement made available to New Telegraph, the U.S. Embassy said it fully supports the joint statement by the heads of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other international election observation missions on the decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to shelve the polls by one week. “We join in encouraging all Nigerians to ensure a free, fair, peaceful, and credible election by supporting INEC while it finalizes electoral preparations this week and by voting in peace together on February 23,” the statement read.
The heads of the international election observation missions and the United Nations in Nigeria had, on Saturday, appealed for calm over the sudden postponement of the general elections in Nigeria by one week due to logistic and operational challenges. The international observers are drawn from the European Union, Commonwealth, African Union, and ECOWAS, amongst others, said they would continue to stand in solidarity with the people of Nigeria in their desire for credible and peaceful elections and would continue to closely observe preparations for the rescheduled polls across the country, “We have taken note of the decision of INEC to postpone the 2019 general elections due to logistical and operational challenges. “While we note that this decision has caused disappointment for many, we call on all Nigerians to continue to remain calm and supportive of the electoral process as INEC works to implement its new timeline.
“We urge INEC to use this time to finalize all preparations and ensure that the new election dates are strictly adhered to. We encourage INEC to provide regular updates and information to the public on its preparations in the coming days and weeks to enhance confidence and trust in the process,” they said. Other groups that endorsed the joint solidarity message include the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa Election Observation Mission; National Democratic Institute/ International Republican Institute Election Observation Mission; Organisation of Islamic Cooperation as well as the Office of the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel Region. Similarly, the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA) has described the postponement of the polls as a bold and courageous decision by the leadership of INEC, saying that the alternative could mess up the electoral process.
Tinubu promises to reward APC members
The National Leader of All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, has promised to give a substantial amount of money to the party faithful if their votes can secure reelection for President Muhammadu Buhari.
Tinubu, former governor of Lagos State, also disclosed that he had enough money to bankroll elections without requesting any money from Buhari or dipping his hands in Lagos State’s treasury.
He made the remarks in a leaked audio tape THISDAY obtained yesterday from an authoritative source that pleaded anonymity.
In the tape, Tinubu said, “For all those who have come to Bourdillon, you know why we are here. We are here for mobilization. You know what I mean by mobilization.
“So, as registered APC members, you have to go and get your neighbors to come out and vote for the APC. It is after I have seen the favorable results of the elections that I will bring out good money.
“Buhari does not have the money that I want to steal and he doesn’t have the money I want to take from him. Also, he does not have the war chest for this presidential election.
“Therefore, whatever I’m promising you is for real – and it is coming from my own pocket. It is not until I go to Alausa before I can get money to give you.”
He, however, told the APC supporters who had come to visit him in preparation for the now-postponed presidential and federal parliamentary polls that he would reward them financially after they had “delivered victory” for Buhari.
Explaining why, Tinubu stated: “Before now, party faithful would gather here around me like ants around sugar, asking for mobilization. They always succeeded in getting something substantial from me with many of them from the same areas.
“That was then. This time it does not matter if your footwear wears out. Once you can deliver in this election, I am committed to giving money that is substantial. We’ll never lack.” The maverick politician also stunned his supporters when he admitted demeaning the people of Osun State. Until now Tinubu had denied making any denigrating statements regarding the financial capacity of the state.
INEC to meet today over ban on campaigns
Following the opposition of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) ban on electioneering during the one-week extension of the poll, the commission will meet today to review the restriction.
INEC, according to its national chairman’s Chief Press Secretary (CPS), Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, would meet to review its position and decide whether or not to reopen campaigns.
The two leading parties have argued that the commission’s restriction has no basis in law.
The PDP also alleged that fresh facts have confirmed that officials of the federal government and the APC have been sabotaging INEC in a well-orchestrated plot to engineer staggered presidential election, contrary to simulated stance by the presidency and the party’s National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole.
The main opposition party also urged the electoral body to rescind its decision on the suspension of campaigns by political parties, a position backed by the Director of Strategic Communications of the ruling party’s Presidential Campaign Council, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN, who described as illegal, the decision of INEC not to allow political parties to engage in further campaigns, despite the postponement of the presidential election to Saturday.
However, the South-south Coordinator, and Special Adviser on Youth and Support Groups to the PDP presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Rev. Chukwudi Eke, has called on the federal government to ensure peaceful and credible elections.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement yesterday said the reason for the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections was that President Muhammadu Buhari was determined to have a staggered election, where he could use security agencies to subvert the will of the people at the polls.
According to the PDP, APC sympathizers in INEC engineered actions that affected the distribution and delivery of INEC’s sensitive materials to designated locations, thereby frustrating the electoral process.
The party stated: “We also have details of how a hired team of data hackers corrupted the voter register, with a view to causing mass confusion and voters suppression on the election day.
“Nigerians would have been shocked that many registered voters in possession of their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) would have arrived their polling centers on election day, only to discover to their amazement that their names have disappeared from the register in their units.
“Intelligence available to us further details how agents of the Buhari Presidency infiltrated the distribution system and ensured that sensitive election materials do not arrive at the designated locations, with a view to stall elections in several states and pave way for a staggered election.
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